Fashion Design and Development Major

  • Student work on display on campus.

  • Guest speaker at Apparel Design lab

    Guest speaker at Apparel Design lab

  • Exhibition of student work

    Exhibition of student work

Bachelor of science

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Program description

Design and development professionals use their creative and technical skills to design products, develop patterns, monitor quality control and assurance and coordinate sourcing activities in apparel and soft goods companies. The major meets increasing industry demand for graduates who have an understanding of both design and merchandising aspects of the industry. The design and merchandising functions are becoming more inter-related as apparel firms rely increasingly on private brands, and as apparel manufacturers assume a more prominent retailing function. Students who elect this option take courses in design, merchandising, and business to prepare them for challenging careers in apparel manufacturing, marketing and retailing companies.

Fashion design and development majors may complete part of their studies at partner institutions. Up to 24 credit hours toward the major can be earned through study at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, Regents University in London, or Florence University of the Arts in Italy.

Prospective students may arrange a department visit by contacting Kelly Weathers.

To declare a fashion design and development major, visit the College of Education and Human Development Office of Admissions and Advising.


The College of Education and Human Development Office of Admissions and Advising assists students in planning their studies. Majors should meet with an advisor each semester to ensure that they stay on track toward graduation.


A student sews clothing.Career opportunities for fashion design graduates include:

  • Fashion and technical designers
  • Product developers
  • Production managers
  • Quality control managers
  • Sourcing managers
  • Stylists


Our alumni have transformed their passion for fashion into challenging and creative careers. Prepare to be inspired:
See our alumni stories


For class listings, program guides, and other resources, visit the advising page for the fashion design and development major.


Field experience and internships

FCS 2020 Field Experience (3 credits)

A student asks a question in class.Field experience offers students the opportunity to apply classroom learning in real world situations, as well as gain valuable work experience. Fashion merchandising and design studies majors earn three semester credits by completing 300 hours of pre-approved, supervised field experience in apparel design and marketing firms. In addition to completion of required hours, students complete reflective assignments and receive periodic employer evaluations during the enrollment period. Field experience may be completed during the fall, spring or summer semester/sessions. It is possible to complete this requirement over more than one semester. Students may enroll for one, two or three credits per semester, with 100 work hours required for each enrolled credit.

FCS 4290 Internship (3 to 6 credits)

A student uses a mannequin to help with creating a piece of clothing.

Fashion merchandising and design majors may elect to complete an internship as part of their program. Internships provide students with supervised, management-level training experience with leading industry firms during late-junior or senior year. Internships may be completed in fall, spring or summer semester/sessions, and must be approved by major faculty prior to enrollment. FCS 2020 Field Experience is a prerequisite, and must be satisfactorily completed prior to enrolling in FCS 4290. A minimum of three credits (300 hours) is required, with a maximum of six credits (600 hours). In addition to completion of required work hours, enrolled students complete reflective assignments and periodic employer evaluations during the semester of enrollment.

To plan a field experience or internship, fashion merchandising and design majors should contact Kelly Weathers

Study abroad opportunities

The fashion merchandising and design major at WMU has partnerships with the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, Regents University in London and Florence University of the Arts in Italy. Fashion majors may complete three to 24 credits at one of these schools as part of their WMU program. Attending one of these schools provides a unique perspective on the industry and the chance to make valuable industry connections.

Check and download study abroad planning guides:

Florence University of the Arts Study Abroad Planning Guide (PDF)

For information on planning your studies at Fashion Institute of Technology, please contact Kelly Weathers.

Student organization

Merchandising Opportunities and Design Association (MODA)

MODA is the student organization representing fashion merchandising and design majors and minors. Joining this organization enhances personal and professional skills and provides opportunities to meet and develop friendships with fellow majors, network with companies and learn about careers. Members use their creativity and leadership skills to help produce annual student fashion shows. Contact Kelly Weathers.

Visit MODA on Facebook.

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